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On 24 February 2024, the UK House of Lords Select Committee (Committee) on the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) was appointed to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into the impact and effectiveness of the UK's landmark modern slavery legislation. On 28 February 2024, the Committee made its first public call for written evidence. The Committee is scheduled to issue its findings by 30 November 2024, and in this post we summarise some of the key questions the Committee is set to consider.


The enactment of the MSA in 2015 saw the introduction of obligations for certain businesses to report on forced labour risks in their operations and supply chains, and steps taken to address those risks. The MSA also consolidated and updated UK law on slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour, and human trafficking (see our previous post here).

The current inquiry follows an earlier independent review of the MSA that was tabled in Parliament in May 2019,[1] as well as a UK Government response to the transparency in supply chains consultation which foreshadowed various reforms to the MSA which have ultimately not been implemented.[2]

The new Committee will consider the MSA's operation and enforcement, as well as developments in the UK and internationally relevant to the MSA.

The recent call for evidence may be answered by any interested party – including businesses that are required to comply with the MSA – and the Committee has made clear that it is "keen to hear from a diverse range of individuals and organisations". The deadline for submissions is 27 March 2024.

The MSA's operation and enforcement

The Committee has called for submissions regarding the efficacy of the MSA's key provisions, including its "definitions, sanctions, reporting, enforcement, and… statutory victims". The Committee also specifically states an interest in evidence on the efficacy of the MSA's provisions relating to forced labour in supply chains.

The MSA's cornerstone reporting regime is laid down in section 54 of the MSA, which requires certain organisations to prepare an annual modern slavery statement. This statement must detail the steps the organisation has taken to ensure slavery and human trafficking are not taking place within "any part" of its business or supply chains, or expressly state that no such steps have been taken. The reporting obligation applies to any commercial organisation with a turnover of more than £36 million which carries on a business or part of a business in the UK, irrespective of the organisation's place of incorporation.

Significant legislative proposals were published by the UK Government in September 2020 relating to the MSA (see our previous post here). In particular, the Government announced that it intended to amend the MSA in order that:

  • modern slavery statements would need to cover mandatory topics such as an organisation's due diligence processes, as well as the parts of the organisation's supply chains where slavery and human trafficking risks arise (whereas under the existing provisions of the MSA, reporting on these matters is not mandatory);
  • modern slavery statements would be published via a UK Government reporting service; and
  • civil penalties for non-compliance with the reporting obligations would be introduced.

Although the UK Government launched its Modern Slavery Statement Registry in March 2021 (see our previous post here), the other legislative proposals made by the Government have not been pursued to date.

Developments in the UK and internationally relevant to the MSA

The Committee has also asked for submissions on the relationship between the MSA and other, more recent legislation, and on whether the MSA remains current considering modern slavery and human trafficking developments in the UK and internationally.

Regarding the UK legal landscape, the Committee makes specific reference to the UK Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023 as examples of recent legislation which might impact the MSA. It is also possible that submissions to the Committee may comment on a private members bill placed before the House of Lords in November 2023, which proposed the introduction of a mandatory human rights due diligence regime in the UK (see our previous post here).

The years following the enactment of the MSA have also seen a range of international developments relevant to modern slavery and human trafficking, which might be drawn upon in submissions to the Committee. These include:

  • the enactment of the Australian Modern Slavery Act in 2018 and the recent conclusions of a statutory review in to the operation of the Australian Act (see our previous post here);
  • various human rights legislative proposals and guidance seen across Asia (see, for example, our posts here and here);
  • the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which imposes mandatory human rights due diligence obligations throughout the EU (see our previous posts here and here)[3]; and
  • the recently-passed EU Forced Labour Regulation, which envisages an EU-wide ban on any products made with forced or child labour (see our posts here and here).


At the time of its enactment, the MSA represented a watershed development in the UK legal framework on modern slavery and human trafficking and inspired the introduction of similar reporting regimes internationally. In the intervening years, the MSA has helped raise the prominence of modern slavery risks to a priority issue requiring board-level attention within organisations. However, in the background, there have been significant shifts in the international legal landscape related to the protection of human rights and the eradication of modern slavery.

As the inquiry progresses – and the global landscape of human rights and modern slavery legislation develops – businesses must continue to monitor the extent to which these laws will align and diverge and understand how this will impact the scope and nature of their due diligence obligations across their international operations and value chains.



The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive was passed by EU Member States on 15 March 2023

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Rebecca Chin

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